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Republic of the Philippines


G.R. No. 102330 November 25, 1998


This petition for review on certiorari seeks to reverse respondent appellate court's
decision 1 promulgated on October 7, 1991, affirming in toto the judgment of the
Regional Trial Court which ruled, 2 thus:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, this Court renders judgment in favor of the defendants and
against the plaintiff, as follows:
1) Ordering the dismissal of the Complaint with costs against the plaintiff;
2) Declaring the defendant Eusebio Francisco the administrator of the properties described in
paragraph eight (8) of the Complaint; and
3) Sentencing the plaintiff to pay the defendants the sum of P10,000.00 as and for attorney's
Petitioner is the legal wife of private respondent Eusebio Francisco (Eusebio) by his second
marriage. Private respondents Conchita Evangelista, Araceli F. Marilla and Antonio Francisco are
children of Eusebio by his first marriage.
Petitioner alleges that since their marriage on February 10, 1962, she and Eusebio have acquired
the following: (1) a sari-sari store, a residential house and lot, and an apartment house, all
situated at Col. S. Cruz St., Barangay Balite, Rodriguez (formerly Montalban), Rizal, and; (2) a
house and lot at Barrio San Isidro, Rodriguez, Rizal. Petitioner further avers that these properties
were administered by Eusebio until he was invalidated on account of tuberculosis, heart disease
and cancer, thereby, rendering him unfit to administer them. Petitioner also claims that private
respondents succeeded in convincing their father to sign a general power of attorney which
authorized Conchita Evangelista to administer the house and lot together with the apartments
situated in Rodriguez, Rizal.

On August 31, 1988, petitioner filed a suit for damages and for annulment of said general power
of attorney, and thereby enjoining its enforcement. Petitioner also sought to be declared as the
administratrix of the properties in dispute. In due course, the trial court rendered judgment in favor
of private respondents. It held that the petitioner failed to adduce proof that said properties were
acquired during the existence of the second conjugal partnership, or that they pertained
exclusively to the petitioner. Hence, the court ruled that those properties belong exclusively to
Eusebio, and that he has the capacity to administer them.
On appeal, the Court of Appeals affirmed in toto the decision of the trial court. Hence, this
Petitioner raised the following errors allegedly committed by the appellate court:
But in her reply, petitioner posed the sole issue "whether or not Article 116 of the Family Code
applies to this case because Article 253 of the same Code [which] expressly repeals Arts. 158
and 160 of the Civil Code" 4
To our mind, the crucial issue in this petition is whether or not the appellate court committed
reversible error in affirming the trial court's ruling that the properties, subject matter of
controversy, are not conjugal but the capital properties of Eusebio exclusively.
Indeed, Articles 158 5 and 160 6 of the New Civil Code have been repealed by the Family Code of
the Philippines which took effect on August 3, 1988. The aforecited articles fall under Title VI,
Book I of the New Civil Code which was expressly repealed by Article 254 7 (not Article 253 as
alleged by petitioner in her petition and reply) of the Family Code. Nonetheless, we cannot invoke
the new law in this case without impairing prior vested rights pursuant to Article 256 8 in relation to
Article 105 9 (second paragraph) of the Family Code. Accordingly, the repeal of Articles 158 and
160 of the New Civil Code does not operate to prejudice or otherwise affect rights which have
become vested or accrued while the said provisions were in force. 10 Hence, the rights accrued
and vested while the cited articles were in effect survive their repeal. 11 We shall therefore resolve
the issue of the nature of the contested properties based on the provisions of the New Civil Code.
Petitioner contends that the subject properties are conjugal, thus, she should administer these on
account of the incapacity of her husband. On the other hand, private respondents maintain that
the assets in controversy claimed by petitioner as "conjugal" are capital properties of Eusebio
exclusively as these were acquired by the latter either through inheritance or through his industry
prior to his second marriage. Moreover, they stress that Eusebio is not incapacitated contrary to
petitioner's allegation.
We find petitioner's contention lacks merit, as hereafter elucidated.

Art. 160 of the New Civil Code provides that "all property of the marriage is presumed to belong to
the conjugal partnership, unless it be proved that it pertains exclusively to the husband or to the
wife". However, the party who invokes this presumption must first prove that the property in
controversy was acquired during the marriage. 12 Proof of acquisition during the coverture is a
condition sine qua non for the operation of the presumption in favor of the conjugal partnership. 13
The party who asserts this presumption must first prove said time element. Needless to say, the
presumption refers only to the property acquired during the marriage and does not operate when
there is no showing as to when property alleged to be conjugal was acquired. 14 Moreover, this
presumption in favor of conjugality is rebuttable, but only with strong, clear and convincing
evidence; there must be a strict proof of exclusive ownership of one of the spouses. 15
In this case, petitioner failed to adduce ample evidence to show that the properties which she
claimed to be conjugal were acquired during her marriage with Eusebio.
With respect to the land at Col. Cruz St., Balite, Rodriguez, Rizal, petitioner failed to refute the
testimony of Eusebio that he inherited the same from his parents. Interestingly, petitioner even
admitted that Eusebio brought into their marriage the said land, albeit in the concept of a
possessor only as it was not yet registered in his name.
Whether Eusebio succeeded to the property prior or subsequent to his second marriage is
inconsequential. The property should be regarded as his own exclusively, as a matter of law,
pursuant to Article 148 16 of the New Civil Code.
Essentially, property already owned by a spouse prior to the marriage, and brought to the
marriage, is considered his or her separate property. 17 Acquisitions by lucrative title refers to
properties acquired gratuitously and include those acquired by either spouse during the marriage
by inheritance, devise, legacy, or donation. 18 Hence, even if it be assumed that Eusebio's
acquisition by succession of the land took place during his second marriage, the land would still
be his "exclusive property" because it was acquired by him, "during the marriage, by lucrative
title." 19
As regards the house, apartment and sari-sari store, private respondents aver that these
properties were either constructed or established by their father during his first marriage. On the
other hand, petitioner insists that the said assets belong to conjugal partnership. In support of her
claim, petitioner relied on the building permits for the house and the apartment, with her as the
applicant although in the name of Eusebio. She also invoked the business license for the sari-sari
store issued in her name alone.
It must be emphasized that the aforementioned documents in no way prove that the
improvements were acquired during the second marriage. And the fact that one is the applicant or
licensee is not determinative of the issue as to whether or not the property is conjugal or not. As
the appellate court aptly noted:
. . . . And the mere fact that plaintiff-appellant [petitioner herein] is the licensee of
the sari-sari store (Exhibit "F-3"; Exhibit "G", pp. 44-47, Record) or is the
supposed applicant for a building permit does not establish that these
improvements were acquired during her marriage with Eusebio Francisco,
especially so when her exhibits ("D-1", "E", "E-I", "T", "T-1", "T-2", "U", "U-l" and
"U-2"; pp. 38-40; 285-290, Record; TSN, January 17, 1989, page 6-7) are
diametrically opposed to her pretense as they all described Eusebio Francisco as
the owner of the structures (Article 1431, New Civil Code; Section 4. Rule 129,
Revised Rules on Evidence).

Neither is it plausible to argue that the sari-sari store constructed on the land of
Eusebio Francisco has thereby become conjugal for want of evidence to sustain
the proposition that it was constructed at the expense of their partnership
(second paragraph, Article 158, New Civil Code). Normally, this absence of
evidence on the source of funding will call for the application of the presumption
under Article 160 of the New Civil Code that the store is really conjugal but it
cannot be so in this particular case again, by reason of the dearth in proof that it
was erected during the alleged second marriage (5 Sanchez Roman 840-841; 9
Manresa; cited in Civil Code of the Philippines by Tolentino, Volume 1, 1983
Edition, page
421). 20
Regarding the property at San Isidro, Rodriguez, Rizal, private respondents assert that their
father purchased it during the lifetime of their mother. In contrast, petitioner claims ownership over
said property in as much as the title thereto is registered in the name of "Eusebio Francisco,
married to Teresita Francisco."
It must be stressed that the certificate of title upon which petitioner anchors her claim is
inadequate. The fact that the land was registered in the name of "Eusebio Francisco, married to
Teresita Francisco", is no proof that the property was acquired during the spouses coverture.
Acquisition of title and registration thereof are two different acts. 21 It is well settled that
registration does not confer title but merely confirms one already existing. 22 The phrase "married
to" preceding "Teresita Francisco" is merely descriptive of the civil status of Eusebio Francisco. 23
In the light of the foregoing circumstances, the appellate court cannot be said to have been
without valid basis in affirming the lower court's ruling that the properties in controversy belong
exclusively to Eusebio.
Now, insofar as the administration of the subject properties is concerned, it follows that Eusebio
shall retain control thereof considering that the assets are exclusively his capital. 24 Even
assuming for the sake of argument that the properties are conjugal, petitioner cannot administer
themn inasmuch as Eusebio is not incapacitated. Contrary to the allegation of petitioner, Eusebio,
as found by the lower court, is not suffering from serious illness so as to impair his fitness to
administer his properties. That he is handicapped due to a leg injury sustained in a bicycle
accident, allegedly aggravated when petitioner pushed him to the ground in one of their
occasional quarrels, did not render him, in the Court's view, incapacitated to perform acts of
administration over his own properties.
WHEREFORE, petition is hereby DENIED. The Decision of the Court of Appeals is AFFIRMED.
Costs against petitioner.
Davide, Jr., Bellosillo, Vitug and Panganiban, JJ., concur.
1 Penned by Court of Appeals Associate Justice (now supreme Court Associate
Justice) Jose A.R. Melo and concurred in by JJ. Regina G. Ordonez-Benitez and
Felimon H. Mendoza.
2 RTC Decision, p. 6; CA Rollo.

3 Petition, pp. 9-10; Rollo, pp. 15-16.

4 Reply, p. 1; Rollo, p. 61.
5 Art. 158. Improvements, whether for utility or adornment, made on the separate
property of the spouses through advancements from the partnership or through
the industry of either the husband or the wife, belong to the conjugal partnership.
Buildings constructed, at the expense of the partnership, during the marriage on
land belonging to one of the spouses, also pertain to the partnership, but the
value of the land shall be reimbursed to the spouse who owns the same.
6 Art. 160. All property of the marriage is presumed to belong to the conjugal
partnership, unless it be proved that it pertains exclusively to the husband or to
the wife.
7 Art. 254. Titles III, IV, V, VI, VII, VIII, IX, XI, and of Book I or Republic Act No.
386, otherwise known as the Civil Code of the Philippines, as amended, and
Articles 17, 18, 19, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 39, 40, 41, and 42 of Presidential Decree
No. 603, otherwise known as the Child and Youth Welfare Code, as amended,
and all laws, decrees, executive orders, proclamations, rules and regulations, or
parts thereof inconsistent herewith are hereby repealed.
8 Art. 256. This Code shall have retroactive effect insofar as it does not prejudice
or impair vested or acquired rights in accordance with the Civil Code or other
9 Art. 105. In case the future spouses agree in the marriage settlements that the
regime of conjugal partnership of gains shall govern their property relations
during marriage, the provisions in this Chapter shall be of supplementary
The provisions of this Chapter shall also apply to conjugal partnerships of gains
already established between spouses before the effectivity of this Code, without
prejudice to vested rights already acquired in accordance with the Civil Code or
other laws, as provided in Article 256.
10 Villones vs. Employees' Compensation Commission, 92 SCRA 320 (1979) at
p. 328 citing 82 Corpus Juris Secundum 1010.
11 Ibid.
12 Jocson vs. Court of appeals, 170 SCRA 333 (1989) at p. 344 citing CobbPerez vs. Lantin, 23 SCRA 637 (1968).
13 ibid.
14 Cuenca vs. Cuenca, 168 SCRA 335 (1988) at p. 344 citing Philippine National
Bank vs. Court of Appeals, 153 SCRA 435 (1987); Magallon vs. Montejo, 146
SCRA 282 (1986); and Maramba vs. Lozano, 20 SCRA 474 (1967).

15 Tolentino, Civil Code of the Philippines, Vol. 1, 1985, p. 427, citing Magnolia
Pet. Co. vs. Crigler. (La. App.) 12 So. (2d) 511; Succession of Burke, 107 La. 82,
31 So. 391.
16 Art. 148. The following shall be the exclusive property of each spouse:
(1) That which is brought to the marriage as his
or her own;
(2) That which each acquires, during the
marriage, by lucrative title;
(3) That which is acquired by right of redemption
or by exchange with other property belonging to
only one of the spouses;
(4) That which is purchased with exclusive
money of the wife or of the husband.
17 Tolentino, supra at p. 395.
18 Tolentino, supra at p. 396.
19 Villanueva vs. Intermediate Appellate Court, 192 SCRA 21 (1990) at p. 26.
20 CA Decision, p. 3; Rollo, p. 27.
21 Jocson vs. Court of Appeals, supra, at p. 345.
22 Ibid., citing Torela vs. Torela, 93 SCRA 391 (1979).
23 Ibid., citing Litam vs. Rivera, 100 Phil. 394 (1956); Stuart vs. Yatco, 4 SCRA
1143 (1962); Magallon vs. Montejo, 146 SCRA 282 (1986).
24 Vitug Compendium of Civil Law and Jurisprudence, 1993 ed., p. 71

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